Coconut Cake

12.23.2018

This Coconut Cake is one of the best cakes you’ll ever make! It’s light and fluffy, it’s brimming with sweet coconut flavor and it’s finished with a rich and creamy cream cheese frosting.  This has been a reader favorite recipe for years and it’s one of my my families favorites!

Slice of three layered homemade coconut cake on a black plate with a black background.

The Best Coconut Cake Recipe!

I shared this coconut cake four years ago but I figured it was due time that I re-share it in case some of you may have missed out. It’s a recipe book dessert staple!

This is what I’m planning on making for Christmas dessert and I can’t wait! Some people look forward to gifts, I look forward to cake.

This cake is elegant and sophisticated yet very traditional and simplistic and it’s perfect for the holidays since it’s not only incredibly delicious but it’s so white and snowy looking.

I love that it’s like the cake you remember your grandma serving at family parties growing up. Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned recipe like this? The classics are often the best.

Finally, A Soft and Moist Coconut Cake

This will probably be one of the softest cakes you’ll ever make and you’ll also love that it is incredibly moist (because we all hate a dry cake right?). And it is layered with sweet, natural coconut flavor with every bite, which is complimented perfectly by the light tang of the cream cheese in the frosting.

Good luck saying your only going to have a thin slice. Not gonna happen with this cake. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa too! I hope you have the best holiday week!

Whole made from scratch coconut cake garnished with lots of coconut and set over a white marble cake stand with a black ground and a maroon tablecloth underneath.

Ingredients for Homemade Coconut Cake

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar and powdered sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Canned coconut milk (don’t use light)
  • Whole eggs and egg whites
  • Coconut extract and vanilla extract
  • Cream of tartar
  • Cream Cheese
  • Shredded sweetened coconut

How to Make Coconut Cake

  • Preheat oven and prepare cake pans.
  • Sift cake flour into a bowl then whisk with baking powder and salt.
  • In an electric stand mixer cream sugar, butter and canola oil.
  • Mix in egg yolks and extracts.
  • Blend in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with additions of coconut milk.
  • Seperately whip egg whites with cream of tartar to stif peaks.
  • Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time.
  • Pour batter into cake pans and spread even.
  • Bake until set, let cool completely then frost and finish with shredded coconut.

Single slice of easy coconut cake with a remainder of cake in the background.

Can I Freeze Coconut Cake?

You can freeze the cake layers without the frosting. To do so wrap in foil then store in an airtight container. Let thaw then frost!

More Coconut Recipes You’ll Love!

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Coconut Cake

4.86 from 35 votes

This Coconut Cake is one of the best cakes you'll ever make! It's light and fluffy, it's brimming with sweet coconut flavor and it's finished with a rich and creamy cream cheese frosting.  It's been a reader favorite recipe for years and it's one of my my families favorites!

Servings: 16 Servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar*
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups well shaken canned coconut milk , at room temperature*
  • 2 large eggs , at room temperature, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese , nearly at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 5 cups (590g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. For the cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans and line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper, butter parchment paper and set pans aside.
  3. Sift cake flour into a large mixing bowl, then add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together granulated sugar, butter and canola oil on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down bowl.

  4. Add in egg yolks one at a time and mix until combined after each addition (reserve 2 egg whites), then mix in coconut and vanilla extracts. Scrape down bowl.

  5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, blend just until combined. Add half of the coconut milk, mix just until combined. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by remaining coconut milk. Finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture.

  6. In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip 6 egg whites with cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time and fold just combined after each addition (don't over-mix and deflate egg whites).
  8. Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Spread batter into an even layer and bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 19 - 22 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool in cake pan 5 - 10 minutes then run a knife along edges of cakes and invert each onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely the cut tops to even as needed.
  10. Frost top of one layer, add another layer and frost then top with last layer and frost top and sides. Place cake stand over a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle cake evenly with shredded coconut (pressing gently on sides to adhere.
  11. I just did it over a rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up - not a must). Store in an airtight container in refrigerator (let rest at room temp until no longer cold before serving).
  12. For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
  13. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter with cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Mix in coconut extract. Add powdered sugar and whip on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.
  14. Chill as needed if frosting seems runny (slightly runny is fine, once you get it frosted the coconut will help it stay in place).
  15. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Recipe Notes

  • If you like the cake a little less sweet you can use 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar. Then you can even use 2/3 the frosting amount which I've done but you'll only have a thin layer of frosting.
Nutrition Facts
Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 681 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 55%
Saturated Fat 24g 120%
Cholesterol 89mg 30%
Sodium 190mg 8%
Potassium 237mg 7%
Total Carbohydrates 85g 28%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 66g
Protein 6g 12%
Vitamin A 16.9%
Vitamin C 0.8%
Calcium 6.9%
Iron 5.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: birthday cake, coconut cake
Calories: 681 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

423 comments

  • Jennifer Perryman: Just as described. Light and soft in texture but incredibly flavorful and rich. Dirtied a lot of bowls, destroyed the kitchen in the process of mixing and frosting, but oh-so-worth it! April 21, 2019 at 8:43pm Reply

  • Bridgett Vadeboncoeur: Hi all. I made this cake for the first time today for Easter. My nephew has Celiac disease and so everything must be gluten-free. I followed this recipe closely but substituted the 3 cups of flour with 2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking Flour and 1 cup of coconut flour. I also realized I had accidentally bought coconut cream instead of milk (I still am not sure what the difference is as they both look the same). It was amazing! Thank you! April 21, 2019 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Pam_P: This is my 3rd Easter making your recipe and once again it’s a winner!! Straight forward instructions and epic results every time. Thank you! April 21, 2019 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Lacey: I have been making this cake every Easter for last four years? Since I first found it on pinterest. It is now tradition in our house. And by far my favorite cake. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Its always light, fluffy, and moist. Even after cutting into it says moist. It’s simply heaven in a cake. April 21, 2019 at 12:32am Reply

  • patsy stewart: My coconut cake was a little dry , my cake pans were dark,could I have over baked,the favors were wonderful. April 19, 2019 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I don’t recommend dark cake pans and be careful not to over-bake like you say this can dry out cakes. Then if you have a kitchen scale maybe use that next time to ensure ingredients are properly measured cup measurements aren’t as accurate.
      I hope it turns out perfect for you next time, sorry it didn’t this time! April 20, 2019 at 8:01am Reply

  • Susan: OMG Fantastic Cake! Delicious! The best! I receive so many compliments when I bake this. April 19, 2019 at 9:35am Reply

  • Krickut: It came out kind of spongy and a little dry. What did I do wrong? April 18, 2019 at 9:55pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It was likely just over baked or flour was over measured, and the batter may have been over-mixed. April 26, 2019 at 1:13pm Reply

  • Jacalyn Garay: I have 2 9″ cake pans with 3″ sides. Can you give me an idea of the baking time? April 18, 2019 at 12:11pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That may work but cake layers may be a little dry since they’d have to bake longer, and sorry I can’t say for sure in time without testing it. April 21, 2019 at 9:18am Reply

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